Fraudsters, phishers, scammers, identity thieves and crooks of all kinds are using more sophisticated tactics to capture your personal information online. Because they’re working overtime to steal your identity, your money, and your peace of mind, you must also work extra hard not to fall for their schemes.
1. Unexpected contact. If you didn’t initiate the interaction with an individual or a company, be extra alert. Scammers like to contact you by phone, text and email about a fake invoice, order, delivery, or charge, hoping you’ll be concerned enough to click on their links to check it out.
Reality check: You’ll know if you placed an order, opened a new credit card account, or are expecting a delivery. If you’re still unsure, refer to your original order confirmation, not the new email.
2. Unusual payment methods. If the sender asks you to pay in a specific, unusual way – like gift cards or cryptocurrency – it’s fake. And if they ask you to keep the payment secret? It’s fake.
Reality check: No legitimate business accepts this kind of payment.
3. Too much pressure. Scammers want you to feel the heat. They want to create a false sense of urgency so that you’ll panic and act without thinking.
Reality check: If someone you don’t know contacts you with pushy language, tight deadlines, threats, and lots of exclamation points, it’s fake.
4. Too many promises. If it sounds too good to be true, IT IS.
Reality check: No one wins the lottery, receives a huge inheritance, or earns a high return on an investment from someone they don’t know.
5. Too personal. If you meet a new friend or love interest online who seems to know just what to say, be on guard. If they suddenly develop an illness, hardship, or other emergency and ask you for money, know that you’re being scammed. Better a little heartbreak with your bank account intact than a major heartbreak and empty wallet down the line.
Reality check: That person you’ve never met face to face, who appears out of the blue, is super friendly, and seems to be your perfect match, is probably scamming you. They are taking advantage of you in order to gain access to your personal and financial information.